As Africa prepares to host the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly referred to as the Conference of the Parties (COP27), attention is focused on carbon neutrality, net zero and climate positivity.
And governments and the business community increasingly agree on the fundamental role of carbon pricing in the transition to a decarbonized economy.
But while the world is focused on developing instruments to deal with the impact of climate change, there is no mention of the guardians of the forest like the Ogiek community who have been guardians of the Mau Forest. and Elgon Forest, which is one of the most important water towers in East Africa.
Their main economic activity is beekeeping. They also do more by generating global public goods and services such as wildlife conservation, carbon sequestration and biodiversity. The Pygmies, a nomadic hunter-gatherer community, also live and maintain the forests of the Cong Basin.
What is common to the two communities that are at the heart of decarbonizing the world is poverty. And while the focus has shifted from stopping the climate change catastrophe to trading carbon credits, discussions of carbon pricing are not about their contribution to the carbon cycle.
In the meantime, forest people do not know where the market is and how to measure their credit assets.
The OECD defines these markets as “a trading system through which countries can buy or sell units of greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of meeting their national emission limits, either under the Kyoto, or under other agreements, such as that between member states of the European Union.”
The problem with the carbon market is that there is no physical market where individuals can buy or sell their credits. Africa, for example, is the least polluting – accounting for only 3.8% of the global greenhouse effect – but these credits never benefit the continent’s poor, even when they deserve it. Instead, the continent is being forced to cut emissions further and phase out coal.
Although rich countries pledged in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries, it was revealed at COP26 that this commitment has still not been met. The whole carbon trading process appears to be shrouded in secrecy and a network of powerful players, including energy companies, stands in the way.
In 2020, a World Bank report recommended that carbon credit prices should be between $40 and $80 per ton of carbon dioxide in order to meet the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement. In contrast, a multi-agency initiative of a Swedish non-governmental organization named Vi Agroforestry (VA) implemented the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP) with assistance from the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund and other donors.
VA worked with KACP to store 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide on 45,000 hectares in Nyanza and Western. The BioCarbon Fund gave farmers $65,000 or $2.60 per ton of CO2 in exchange for their carbon credits. Each farmer received maybe less than a dollar. The difference between $2.60 and $80 would have gone to several layers of consultants whose exact roles are unknown.
Climate injustice is staggering in Africa. The Congo Basin ecosystem, for example, provides a carbon sink service equivalent to 10 years of global emissions. The DRC alone has 10 percent of the world’s tropical forests.
It has the greatest impact on global emission reduction targets. It should rightfully collect billions of dollars in carbon credits. Unfortunately, it is not the case. Instead, he received $500 million in donor money to protect DR Congo’s forest.
At COP26, Ethiopian Minister of Transport, Dagmawit Moges, said: “The lack of capacity and the complexity of the process of accessing already scarce funding has made it difficult for developing countries.”
The continent must equip itself with the necessary capacities to negotiate at the next COP27.